In a week where he needed one, Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh got a win.
The Knicks have hired former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as their director of pro personnel, the team announced Saturday. Since he was expected to be hired as a consultant so this is a much more entrenched position within the organization. Where he now fits exactly in the Knicks front office hierarchy with assistant GM Allen Houston is unclear, but he is not just on the periphery.
Officially he will report to Walsh (the de facto GM) and will work primarily on the draft and scouting, but he will also have a role in personnel decisions. Warkentien comes from Denver where he helped trade Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups among other moves. Warkentien’s reputation is as a guy who can find talent deep in the draft and someone who has good ties to players overseas.
Oh, by the way, Warkentien has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony and his people. That doesn’t hurt.
With rumors floating around that Knicks owner James Dolan may not pick up the extension on Walsh’s contract (he has until April 30), having two trusted soldiers in Houston and Warkentien in the front office means some kind of continuity of decisions should remain in place if Walsh is allowed to walk. That is why this is a win for Walsh. (Although you could argue this gives Dolan more leverage to move Walsh out because others are there. Go ahead and argue it if you want, I prefer not to try to think like Dolan. It gives me a headache.)
Of course, all bets are off if Dolan brings Isiah Thomas back.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.